Mayoral Candidates: Building Resilience for the Ottawa Business Community

OCOBIA posed a question to all Mayoral candidates for the Ottawa Election regarding Building Resilience for the Ottawa Business Community

Pandemics, protests and power outages (and other extreme weather impacts).
These have had devastating impacts on our business community throughout Ottawa and in many instances have paralyzed economic activity.

There will be more.

How do you plan to lead a resilient Ottawa and mitigate the impact of these events? Please provide concrete actions or steps you will take as mayor to build resiliency for our business community.
Here are the answers from the candidates who submitted a response, in order of receipt:
Submissions to date (October 17, 2022): Zed Chebib, Bernard Couchman, Param Singh, Mark Sutcliffe

Zed  Chebib

The protest has also prompted a rethink of Wellington Street and raised questions about the future of the downtown core. What is your vision for downtown Ottawa?
I will dig the Wellington Street from the Elgin Street just past the Rideau Canal by the East Block, I will dig down at least Two or Three Story all the way to Bank Street just past the West Block, Cover up the Lower Level to Make the Traffic Flow like a Tunnels all the way to Bank Street, and on top of this i will Build One or Two Story Mall, and to link the north of the Parliament Hill with a pedestrian underpass cross to the south of Wellington street all the way to spark street, and to restore the top of Wellington Street to make it for a local traffic only the way it is right now,
Sparks Street mall, I will Reconstructed in the middle of the Street for Two Lane Traffic, one Lane in each Direction and some parking to each side of the street, build with Brick or Cement Slate or Stencils to fit the surroundings area, and during the day it will be closed for all the traffic it will stay as is right now between 6 AM, to 6 PM, and I Will open it for the traffic after this from 6 PM, TO AM, to to revitalize the Downtown core so you could have some Night Life for the Downtown area,
This is part of my plan for now,  1- I would like to start by converting some of the empty warehouses to shelters for the homeless, because they are very vulnerable especially in the winter time and you could at the same time make them work as a casual labour to sort all kind of the recycling we have, and they are very good at it, most of them they are do it on their own anyway, it’s a win-win situation,
2- housing for low income family & for the seniors because they are very vulnerable, by converting some of the vacant buildings in and around the city of Ottawa as a joint Venture with the federal government and provincial governments together, plus to to reassess some of the zoning area like R 1 & R 2 , so it could be done very Quickly, in order to meet the overwhelming demand for public housing,
3- I will change the Renting Bylaw from Zone R 1 to R 2, Zoning immediately, this way it will help both the Owner and the Renter at the same time at no cost to the Taxpayer, the Owner will get some help to pay their mortgage if they choose to rent part of their home, and the Renter will find it much easier to find an Affordable Rent at the same time, but we have to put Some of the Regulation in place to protect Both party,
4- I will also change the Building Bylaw Zone R 1 to R 2, and some cases R M, multiple units Zoning immediately, this way it will help some of the Owner if they have a big lot on Their House they own, and if it’s big enough to put another Unit or Two on the Property to Build after we put the new Regulation in Place for them, so they could obtain New Permit from the Local Council as well, I have a Nephew in Australia he does this for a living besides His Job as Metallurgical Engineer, and it could be done Very Quickly at no cost to the Taxpayer, the choice up to the Homeowner to do this, and this is a Quick Solution to this problem we are facing at the moment’ all of the all of the infrastructure Already Exists it so we don’t have to go too far Away from the City, if you have any questions please let me know.

Bernard Couchman

To answer your one question, we are tackling the issue at the root
cause, if we take care of the people social problems, we will have less
people on the streets. All Business have an inherit problem, because you
are dealing with the public, and the public is untamed. Civil society is
responsible for the people, we must take care of the people. When we
take care of the people, we will all win. When you go
www.bernardcouchman.ca you will find more of what we are doing for small
and medium size business. As a serial Entrepeneur my businesses have
gone through the same issues you are all facing. We can learn from our
pass and embrace the future. Our plan is to help the S & M be successful
by using hyphens to connect business to people (Customers), this will be
a first for Canada and possibly the world. You will love me as a leader
for the Businesses.

Param Singh

Ottawa is a unique city with unique problems. We are the Nation’s Capital and as the Nation’s Capital we are not immune to mother nature, downtown protests, and power outages.
As Mayor, I will start by working with business groups to ensure that the city has appropriate assistance and disaster relief planning in place that meets the needs of our vibrant business community.
We must also ensure we have strong building codes and roadway designs to better manage the impact to physical structures. This will also mean that we must look at ensuring we have a strong electrical corridor. Which means working with our Hydro partners.
We must also have an education awareness programs and services that are available to businesses and residents impacted by severe climate occurrences so that they are better prepared for the future.
We must also commit toward working to minimize our environmental footprint in the goal to hopefully reduce the impact of climate change on our community and beyond.

Mark Sutcliffe

OCOBIA Question – Mark Sutcliffe Response (PDF)

Businesses across the city have faced unprecedented challenges in the last few years: the COVID-19 pandemic, the convoy and major weather events have kept people at home, impacted infrastructure, and caused property damage. Businesses have been taken significant hits to their operations putting at risk their sustainability, jobs and the economic future of Ottawa.

These are issues that are likely to be repeated, and in many cases are predictable. We need leadership at city hall to be prepared for both expected and unexpected events, to have both the plans and the financial sustainability to withstand a crisis, like COVID-19, and we need leadership that fully understands the integral role that small businesses play in pushing Ottawa’s economy forward.

To build a resilient Ottawa, we need to build an Ottawa that is:

● Affordable – so that we can continue to keep and attract new talent to grow our economy;
● Safe – so that residents and businesses can operate in safe environments while having the confidence that our emergency services and front line responders will be there when they need;
● Reliable – City operations need to be reliable and provide the services that people need like fixing our OC Transpo routes, repairing our roads and having responsive bylaw services.

Here’s what I’ll do:

Reform the Emergency Measures Management Unit

Ensure that first responders are prepared to respond to a range of situations, from a major occupation such as the convoy, to a massive power outage. This reform will provide better collaboration and accountability for responding entities, rather than laying blame and playing politics when residents expect results. I also commit to convening with law enforcement officials at all levels, including the Parliamentary Protective Service, in my first 100 Days to put a plan in place that would prevent this type of demonstration or occupation from occurring.
Should an illegal protest arise and an occupation is a possibility my message will be swift and effective action. Any truck or other vehicle impeding city traffic or business that is parked illegally will be ticketed and towe

Downtown Revitalization

Work with small business owners, BIAs, and other organizations including the Board of Trade and Ottawa Tourism, on a strategy to animate the core with more festivals, events, and activities that will bring people downtown.
Work with tourism leaders, the federal government, and other stakeholders to develop a plan for a new major national attraction in downtown Ottawa, such as a museum or cultural centre.
Work with the federal government to create a vibrant Parliamentary precinct that serves as a grand national gathering place that invites Canadians and others from around the world to our capital city.
Work closely with the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Associations and all downtown BIAs on the revitalization plan.

Building Arts and Culture Infrastructure

Reviewing and updating city bylaws to ensure that they enhance and support the music community and accelerate the myriad of economic impacts and benefits concerts and festivals return to our neighborhoods without limiting the ability of artists to perform in public (like buskers).
Creating a Music Office as a single point of contact for the music community to champion the city’s music strategy development.
Completing the City of Ottawa’s nightlife economy strategy and implementing its recommendations.

Not defund the police.

Modernize our emergency services to ensure we are delivering a safer Ottawa for everyone.
Some candidates in this race have voted to cut funding from our emergency services. Some activist organizations are advocating that the police budget be slashed by over $200M. I do not support either of these proposals.
I will enable the police services to grow as the city grows. This will add at least 100 new positions over the next four years, with a focus on priority areas including violence against women, hate and bias crimes against marginalized communities, and gun violence.

Police Board Oversight

Ensure proper oversight by the Police Services Board and increase opportunities for community representation and input to re-establish trust and ensure our police service is better for everyone.
It’s time to take the politics out of policing. We cannot cut spending on emergency services, including policing, when crime is rising and the city is short on available paramedics. Instead, we must invest in and modernize emergency services, address leadership issues, inequities, and systemic flaws, and restore public trust.
I will ensure proper leadership and representation on the Ottawa Police Services Board, in the following ways:

● I will sit on the Board, and ensure every region of our city is represented on the Board.
● I will work with Council and the provincial government to ensure that each group of appointees to the Board have the necessary skills, experience, diversity and training to hold the leadership of our police service accountable for their performance.
● Working with others, I will recruit a strong independent community member who is qualified not only to serve on the Ensure members of the Ottawa Police Service are adequately trained and resourced to respond in a timely and compassionate manner to incidents of gender-based violence, sexual assault, and harassment.
● Ensure members of the Ottawa Police Service are adequately trained and resourced to respond in a timely and compassionate manner to incidents of gender-based violence, sexual assault, and harassment.


In the very early days in office I will convene all relevant agencies, either collectively or in one-on-one meetings, to satisfy myself that the city is prepared and protected from any illegal protest that could harm our city. The goal is a coordinated, effective and timely deterrence, and response to any threat that impacts the city. This assessment will include the Ottawa Police Service, OPP, RCMP and Parliamentary Protective Services, and all intelligence agencies.


A lesson from the convoy is that businesses were unprepared for the severity, on-the-ground impacts, and duration of the occupation. There was frequently contradictory messaging from the city, which was detrimental to downtown businesses (businesses didn’t know if they should or were allowed to stay open, if their staff would be able to get to the core, if deliveries could be received if they could do home delivery of services). Hotels and Ottawa Tourism need to be able to explain how visitors are going to be impacted. Businesses need to be informed with timely and accurate information. A constant reminder from the city for residents to support physical businesses, especially in a crisis, including shop local campaigns.

Greater Climate resiliency initiatives

Double the city’s annual tree planting goal to replace and enhance the urban canopy, helping to cool the city and clean the air. This would mean 250,000 new trees planted annually, or one million by the end of the first term.

Monitor the stormwater management and outfall rehabilitation programs to improve the water quality of the Ottawa and Rideau rivers with real-time reporting of sewage overflows and regular reporting on water quality.

Work with the National Capital Commission, the City of Gatineau and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority to improve the health, biodiversity and water quality of our rivers and watershed, as well as on climate change mitigation measures and in developing adaptation strategies focused on addressing flooding and extreme heat.



We will continue to update this page as answers are received.


Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas is an advocate and influencer on issues and policies affecting the economic development and well-being of Ottawa BIAs – and the businesses they represent.


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